State Officials 'Scared' by Drought

Posted September 27, 2007

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— Grim prospects for rain are starting to frighten state officials as the drought gripping North Carolina shows little sign of abating.

"We are scared because we have the potential, at least, for a dry winter," State Climatologist Ryan Boyles said following a meeting of the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council. "We are on our way to be worse than 2002 and probably on our way to having the worst drought on record."

Three-quarters of the state's counties are in extreme drought, the drought panel said Thursday in its weekly report. Another dozen counties are experiencing severe drought conditions, while eight counties in the western end of the state are in the worst category – exceptional drought.

The only changes from last week's report were Hyde County moving from severe drought to moderate drought and Beaufort County moving from extreme drought to severe drought.

On Thursday, Gov. Mike Easley dispatched water conservation teams from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to work with local communities hit hardest by the drought to explore and implement ways to minimize water consumption and extend available resources.

Short-term forecasts don't look promising for rain, WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said, adding that North Carolina needs a consistent pattern of fronts bringing rain across the state to break the drought.

Falls Lake, the primary water source for Raleigh and several Wake County towns, is down about 6 feet from normal levels and is only 2 feet above its all-time low level, which was reached in 2002.

The lake's quality water capacity – the amount of water it contains that doesn't need heavy pretreatment – is down to 45 percent, while Jordan Lake, the primary water source for Cary and other area towns, has about 42 percent of its quality water capacity, officials said.

"Does this mean we're going to run out of water in Falls Lake sometime in January? No," said Terry Brown, of the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake. "At zero percent (quality water capacity) ... we basically have 36½ feet of lake left at that point (to tap) on an emergency basis, on a very high conservation-type use."

Still, Dale Crisp, director of Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said that, without significant rainfall, the city might implement Stage 2 water restrictions, which would ban all outdoor watering, as early as next month to conserve its dwindling water supply.

"(It) sounds like we are going to have to move to Stage 2 because the drought does plan to continue for several months," Crisp said. "I would say certainly in the next two months we'll be doing that and maybe even next month."

Stage 1 restrictions, which went into effect Aug. 28, have resulted in a 16 percent reduction in daily water consumption, officials said.

"If we eliminate irrigation altogether ... then it could result in another significant drop in our customer demand, which would increase the amount of water-supply-days remaining out there," Crisp said.

But City Manager Russell Allen said he doesn't think Stage 2 restrictions will be needed, saying Stage 1 limits were working.


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  • lizard Sep 29, 2007

    zProt- they got you big time, dude! Complete with the "if-you- don't-believe-me-you're-not-intelligent" line.

    Temperature checks in the atmosphere indicate cooling not warming. The ones that say otherwise do it for the money. They don't get their grants if they don't say things like that. Then they would have to go get real jobs and pay taxes for their chicken little prophesies. Can't you remember the Y2K scare we spent $66 billion on?

  • zProt Sep 28, 2007

    "Humans have not been keeping detailed and accurate weather records long enough to make a determination about global warming. The warmer temperatures could simply be part of a natural climatic cycle that operates on a period of thousands or tens of thousands of years, far longer than humans have been keeping records."

    This is exactly where your logic flubs it, dude. Climatologists and geologists can find out more about past weather patterns than you can about your own behind. Go get an education.

  • pmlance Sep 28, 2007

    The answer is that in most cases the HOA can walk onto your property to check something and it isn't illegal. This is a typical clause in a neighborhood covenant. Once you sign it (and signing it is a condition of buying) you are contractually bound to this. There is nothing illegal or strange about it. It is contract law 101. The thing is, many do not read their covenant, and do not realize that by signing it they are agreeing to wave certain things and take on certain responsibilities.

  • gopanthers Sep 28, 2007

    Deb1003 - I see mine walking around from time to time but again, never seen them in my backyard and "again" not to say they never have. I know they have rules and guidelines to adhere to, but walking into your backyard without your permission would be illegal one would think. But what do I know. Not a member of an HOA nor work for any part of the legal system. Just an everyday/common citizen here. (:

  • gopanthers Sep 28, 2007

    You are correct sir. LOL - No I wouldn't personally do that. Now picking up the phone and reporting water waste is a whole different ball game. That I would do.

  • Deb1003 Sep 28, 2007

    gopanthers, I don't know about your HOA, but I regularly see them walking through our backyards. In fact, I called my neighbor 6 months ago to warn her about a man walking around the back of her home. She approached him and later told me he was w/ the HOA. So, apparently our HOA will walk around homes to inspect them and issue warnings based on that inspection.

  • yacs Sep 28, 2007

    You "hear" that, eh, gopanthers? Not speaking from experience, right?


  • yacs Sep 28, 2007

    I have to laugh at the detractors who are claiming this is all just a conspiracy to get us to conserve. Why would someone try to trick us into conserving if it's not necessary?

    If anyone thinks it's not necessary to save water right now, go look at some of this year's crops. This drought exists, and we need a short-term solution.

    I agree that it will balance itself out in the long run, but it might not do so before we run out. We should cut back now, then return to our old habits after the drought is over.

  • gopanthers Sep 28, 2007

    You are correct sir. I hear Bleach works just as good.

  • yacs Sep 28, 2007

    Yogi: "i'm proud of my extra crispy lawn. i think the people that keep watering need to have someone run through their yard with round-up sprayed on their shoes."

    Yogi, I suggest one change to your amusing plan -- instead of running around randomly, the Round-uppers should spell out certain words in those lawns!